Evil Invaders – Shattering Reflection (Album Review)

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Evil sounds of the 80s re-emerge.

Opinions may vary as to what sub-genre of metal can claim to be the most intense, but there is clearly something to be said for the harrowing and sinister character of the speed metal variant that took hold in the mid-1980s and functioned as a sort of missing link between the NWOBHM and the more extreme variants that began to take shape in the latter part of the decade. Perhaps even more intriguing is the comparatively small number of bands among heavy metal’s current revivalist crowd exploring this all but lost art next to the legions of traditional doom and early 80s emulators. But when all is said and done, the primal screams and biting riffs that typified the likes of Exciter, Razor, and Raven have some highly competent disciples making waves in Europe, with Germany’s own Vulture and Swedish trustees Enforcer being among the more consistent creators, though even they have some formidable competition if the latest crusher of an album out of Belgium’s own Evil Invaders has any say in the matter.

In what can best be described as a harrowing throwback to the most forbidding excursions into speed thrashing excess, this outfit’s third studio offering “Shattering Reflection” presents one of the most authentic displays of 80s metal revivalism to come to light since Wolf’s eponymous debut kick-started the very concept. A delicate balance between the high octane, impact-based approach that functioned as a slightly less vile precursor to the Teutonic thrashing extremities of Destruction and Kreator and the more melodic inclinations of Iron Maiden and Judas Priest has been struck, and laid as a massive foundation between the highly distinctive and eccentric vocal displays of front man and guitarist Johannes “Joe” Van Audenhove. For those with a decent background in the archaic mystique of older metal, picture a raging amalgam of the glass-shattering excesses of Crimson Glory’s Midnight (R.I.P.) and the biting, mid-ranged gruff of Tom Araya circa “Show No Mercy” and you’ll be in the right ballpark.

To state that intensity is high on this album’s priority list would be putting it mildly, as caution is thrown to the proverbial wind and then chased with an industrial strength flamethrower. The opening crusher “Hissing In Crescendo” lands with a resounding rumble in a fashion that would seem comparable to that of Judas Priest’s “Screaming For Vengeance” given the melodic flourishes of the guitar work, but what begins as a seeming homage to “The Hellion” quickly morphs into a mad raging thrasher that splits the difference between “Painkiller” and Exodus“Bonded By Blood.” The mayhem doesn’t end there, as explosive bangers like “Die For Me” and “Sledgehammer Justice” up the ante in the speed and aggression department even further, with Joe putting forth a schizophrenic display of voices to rival King Diamond and lead guitarist Max Maxheim throwing out impressive solo displays that brilliantly bridge the divide between Glen Tipton and Kerry King.

Perhaps the only thing more intriguing than this outfit’s devotion to speed metal excess is how seamlessly they are able to transition into less frenetic territory. Indeed, when considering the more mainline 80s heavy metal character of the haunting semi-ballad “In Deepest Black” and the slow-trudging stomp of the bottom-heavy yet melodically-charged “Forgotten Memories”, it’s hard to miss the affinity that this outfit shares with the likes of Accept and even certain darker Sunset Strip outfits like W.A.S.P. and Lizzy Borden. Further still, the ambient trappings of the brief interlude “Realm Of Shadows” and the extended display of expressive guitar wizardry that kicks off the epic thrash romp “Eternal Darkness” reveals a band that isn’t above experimenting with progressive ideas in between thrashing everyone’s heads clear off their shoulders. This tendency comes to an absolute head at the albums end when the brilliant atmospheric stylings of the extended instrumental jam “Aeon” give way to the horrific grand finale “The Circle”, occasionally defying the conventions of their adopted style.

Though it’s a bit early in the year to start making nominations for album of the year, Evil Invaders has definitely unleashed a certified contender here, putting the rest of the heavy metal revival crowd on notice in the process. While it is all well and good to see the growing throngs of bands paying tribute to the rustic trappings of Manilla Road and the galloping majesty of Iron Maiden, there is a whole reservoir of brilliance that was originally displayed in Germany and parts of Northern Europe that split the difference between the old guard and the darker fringes of mid-80s thrash and USPM ripe for re-exploration and expansion, and thus far “Shattering Reflection” has spread shards of brilliant to the four winds with few others treading a similar path. For the old guard who long for the days when bands like Iron Angel, Living Death and Agent Steel were breaking the sound barrier without need of a plane around them, and the younger crowd hungry for the same vintage speed, this is the album to hear.

Released By: Napalm Records
Release Date: April 1st, 2022
Genre: Heavy Metal

“Shattering Reflection” Track-list:

  1. Hissing In Crescendo
  2. Die For Me
  3. In Deepest Black
  4. Sledgehammer Justice
  5. Forgotten Memories
  6. Realm of Shadows
  7. Eternal Darkness
  8. My World
  9. Aeon
  10. The Circle

EVIL INVADERS is:

  • Joe / Vocals & guitars
  • Senne Jacobs / Drums
  • Max / Guitars
  • Joeri / Bass

Shattering Reflectionis available in the following formats:

  • Jewel Case
  • 1LP Sleeve Black
  • 1LP Sleeve Marbled Black & Blue – limited to 300 copies worldwide
  • Shirt & Jewel Case Bundle
  • Digital Full Length Album

9.3 Excellent

Channeling the most intense and insidious sounds of the mid-80s when early heavy metal was giving way to thrash in both Europe and the Americas, Belgian quartet and speed metal trustees Evil Invaders deliver a truly forbidding third studio entry to put the rest of the New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal revivalists on notice

  • Songwriting 9.5
  • Musicianship 9
  • Originality 9.5
  • Production 9
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